China's First Astronaut Won't Be On Second Manned Flight: Report
China's first man in space, Yang Liwei, will not be among the two astronauts who blast off on the country's second manned mission next month, state media reported Sunday.
Yang, who became a national hero and received rock star-like adolation after circling the Earth solo 14 times in October 2003, said he wanted to give other astronauts the opportunity.
"I won't go on the Shenzhou VI mission," he said at a meeting in Nanjing on Saturday, the Xinhua news agency reported, quoting local press.
Yang confirmed the mission would take place in mid-October but said he was too involved in the selection and training of 13 other astronauts in line for a seat on the craft to prepare himself.
Yang, a fighter pilot, received the "Space Hero" label after his 2003 orbit of the Earth made China the third nation to send a man into space, after the United States and the former Soviet Union.
Reports earlier this month said the second manned space flight will blast off from the Jiuquan Space Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu province, using a Long March 2F rocket, after the October 1-7 holidays here.
The flight will involve two astronauts and last 119 hours or five days, the Beijing News said.
China's space program is still shrouded in secrecy, and few details are made public about events until several days before they happen. However, since the success of the first manned flight, authorities have shown slightly more transparency.
Keenly aware of the military, scientific and commercial benefits of space exploration, China has been aggressively pursuing space travel for years.
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China's Second Manned Space Flight After October Holiday: Report
Beijing (AFP) Sep 12, 2005
China plans to launch its second manned space mission after the National Day holiday next month, a state-run newspaper said Sunday.